Aug 22 2014

Albuquerque Poet and Activist Hakim Bellamy on His Art and Politics – Part 2

A cell phone video of the police shooting of 25 year old African American man Kajieme Powell was released by St. Louis police yesterday. Police shot and killed Powell in broad daylight in St. Louis, near Ferguson, just days after, and 3 miles from where Michael Brown was killed. Brown’s killing has sparked some of the most important protests against police brutality in recent years.

The video of Powell’s killing appears to be at odds with the police’s own accounts, with his hands by his sides, and not waving at the officers. Police claim he had a knife that he was wielding with an over-hand grip. It took them only 15 seconds, after they pulled up to him, to begin shooting. At least nine shots are heard on the video. The police then proceeded to handcuff the fallen man as he bled to his death. Meanwhile, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has announced he is pulling the National Guard out of Ferguson.

We turn to part 2 of a conversation with a man who has just finished his term as poet laureate of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hakim Bellamy is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion, and holds three consecutive collegiate poetry slam titles at the University of New Mexico. His poetry has been published in Albuquerque inner-city buses and numerous anthologies. He is the co-creator of the multimedia Hip Hop theater production Urban Verbs: Hip-Hop Conservatory & Theater that has been staged throughout the country. His first book of poetry is entitled Swear.

Hakim’s current home of Albuquerque is the site of some of the worst police violence in the US, even though it is often eclipsed by New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and these days Ferguson. Community activists like him have organized in unique and creative ways to protest police brutality including occupying the premises of officials, and creating a forum for ordinary people to express their vision of what a police department should be.

Click here for Part 1 of the conversation.

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